New Year’s Eve in New York: A Survival Guide


New York, New York. The name luxuriously repeated by Frank Sinatra and later rejuvenated by Jay-Z evokes images of the city’s guilty nightlife, where everyone who hustled and bustled all day finally let their vices loose. It’s the lifeblood of our weekends in this hedonist metropolis, when bars, clubs or wherever it is you found yourself at 2am on a Friday are lined with partygoers, all looking for the right scene to drink the night away in.

However, there are several nights when this lifeblood can go bad; those select few days of the year when New York’s nightlife turns against you. These are the times when a subset of hours in a day are strictly dedicated to partying, leading to mass confusion and hysteria. To name a few: Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, SantaCon and, most notably and timely, New Year’s Eve.

The last day of the year rises above the rest for one sole reason: exposure. It’s seriously the one night when all of the country is watching New York; at midnight, millions of eyes are set on that damn ball in Times Square. As a result, thousands upon thousands of people flock to the streets to ring in the new year and we’ll have to deal with the repercussions. This isn’t meant to sound nativist but, shit, you’ll need to know what you’re getting into.

Luckily, you have these tips to make it out alive.

DO: Avoid all modes of public transportation from 6pm on. We’re talking cabs, subways, buses, gondolas and ferries here. They’ll be more packed than those subways in Japan and will only slow you down. Therefore, you’ll have to walk everywhere (for the ladies: heels… probably not the best idea). If it’s blistering cold out, suck it up; you made the decision to come to New York on New Year’s and these are the consequences. Unless you want to end up dealing with these guys on every street corner in Manhattan:

DON’T: Go anywhere near Times Square. Better yet, here are your parameters: maintain a steady bomb radius from the area between 23rd Street and 59th Street. Basically, if you go to Midtown, Murray Hill or any other neighborhood with a Sbarro’s, you’ll have the worst night ever. You’ll either get trampled or drown in confetti. Whatever is quicker.

DO: Stay in one place or one borough. Without any form of transportation (see above), your bar hopping will have to be limited and localized. Unless a life-threatening electrical fire breaks out in the bar that you’re at, stay put. If your friends are in Chelsea and you’re in the East Village, you’ll see them next year. And don’t even think ‘Can you bring me back to Williamsburg?’ is a viable card in your night’s deck.

DON’T: Make plans past midnight. It’s a free for all at that point.

DO: Go to a friend’s apartment if that option is available. And thank your friend a million times over for sparing you a roller coaster of emotions by helping him or her clean the next morning. Believe me, they’ll be grateful.

DON’T: Sleep outside. On any given night, this is a bad idea. Tonight, it’s the worst idea.

DO: See a concert of some sort if you can. Every musician and their mother plays a show in New York on this special night (high recommendation: Jay-Z and Coldplay at Barclays). You may have to shovel out an arm and the next three month’s rent for a ticket but, hey, you’ll be entertained for hours with no knowledge whatsoever of What’s Going On Outside. Decide for yourself if it’s worth it.

DON’T: Wear white at all. It’s after Labor Day – don’t try to pass it off as “winter white.” Save it for summer; we get it.

DO: Make a fool out of yourself. It’s New Years Eve – enjoy the guise of hype while it lasts. Hopefully, you didn’t read this guide to yourself using an anti-fun tone in your head. New York is party central on this particular evening for a reason. But, like any major event here, the night has its pros and its cons that you’ll have to maneuver through. And reading this guide is Step One.

DON’T: Ignore these tips or you’ll pay for it. I won’t tell you how but you’ll find out the hard way.

New York, New York. FYI: Extra points go to the person who makes it to sunrise/brunch.